3 Foolproof Ways to Blow New Employees Away on their First Day

Another new year is upon us, friends! 365 blank calendar squares where we can make a difference, add value, build connections and drive results. The promise and possibility of that is motivating to me, despite years and years of abandoned new habits and rarely worn gym clothes, since I’m not much of a “resolution” kind of gal.

If your team is like my team, the new year also means gearing up for the first New Employee Orientation of the year. Will you be kicking off 2018 with the same-old-same-old orientation experience, or is this the year you make some changes?

If you are looking to ease into some changes to your organization’s onboarding program, something that will generate a positive reaction (without breaking the bank!), a simple place to look is the welcome experience your new employees receive on their first day. Here are 3 incredibly simple….like, “Why didn’t I think of that?!” simple…tactics to make your new employees’ first day memorable and make them excited to return for Day #2.

Foolproof Tactic #1: Roll out the red carpet…..literally.

When you make a hiring decision, it is crucial to remember that the decision is two-sided. Your new employee is also choosing YOU, including the hiring manager, the team he will be working alongside, the role/title, the organizational culture and the work itself – only having seen or experienced a tiny bit of it before his first day. Help put his mind at ease from the moment he steps foot in your lobby, and confirm that he made the right decision by accepting your offer.

The concept of “rolling out the red carpet” may be cliche, but it is long-associated with top tier events – movie premieres, high society galas and other glamorous gatherings. Giving your new employees the VIP treatment is a fun way to ease first-day jitters and bring a smile to his face.

And the best part? You can order one on Amazon today and have it rolled out before the new year! Check it out:



Foolproof Tactic #2: Involve your C-suite (a little or a lot)

Even the busiest executives should have some face time with your newest team members. Even a 15-minute meet-and-greet session sends a message to new employees that your leaders support onboarding, are committed to their immersion and success and are eager to get acquainted with them, which is an important factor in new employee engagement.

Granted, in our global culture, remote onboarding may prevent some, perhaps all, face-to-face encounters. Here are several ways to involve your senior leaders, both in person and from afar:

  • Kick off new employees’ first day with coffee and/or breakfast with your CEO while s/he shares his career story and provides a welcome and company overview.
  • Record a short video of your CEO or other key executive in advance welcoming new employees to the team and text it to them one hour before their official start time. Update the video annually or as specific initiatives/goals/success stories evolve.
  • Have your executive hand-deliver a name tag, uniform, or fun swag items with a handshake and a warm welcome.
  • With permission, include a stop in your executive wing on a building tour.
  • Invite the CEO to participate in a Google Hangout/Skype chat with new remote employees on their first day.
  • Leave a handwritten card on the new employee’s desk (or mail it to a remote employee’s home to arrive on his/her first day).


Foolproof Tactic #3: Make a game of it.

Interactive learning games can be an extraordinary way to engage new employees, build connections and create a memorable environment. Here are a few ideas, based on simple mainstream games, that might jump-start your creativity. Need more inspiration or want to develop something more customized? Check out the book Play to Learn by Sharon Boller and Karl Kapp…so good!

  • Was it your CEO, in the Employee Lounge, with the candlestick? Turn a ho-hum scavenger hunt into an interactive take on the game Clue! Distribute clues/company facts on cards throughout the day – new employees can use the clues to solve a mystery, identify company employees and learn helpful information.
  • Poker, anyone? As leaders and other employees participate in Orientation on the employees’ first day, they can distribute one playing card to each new employee. At the end of the day, the best “poker” hand wins a small prize!
  • Make your org chart come alive! Attach headshots of company leaders and other key employees on cardstock with clues about their name, characteristics and role. Asking yes-or-no questions, players identify which employee is on the card, à la Guess Who?.


Whatever your onboarding goals may be for 2018, hopefully these simple, foolproof tactics will serve as inspiration to help you achieve them and truly blow your new employees away! Need assistance developing a results-driven onboarding strategy for your organization? Let’s talk!

Cheers to your organization’s success and prosperity in the new year!


4 Tips for Increasing Authenticity in your Onboarding Program


For several years now, I have had the (insanely fun) opportunity to consult with organizations and speak at conferences about the need for strategic, impactful onboarding and improving the new employee experience. I’ve had conversations over countless cups of coffee with HR leaders, training facilitators, talent development professionals and other industry friends about how to develop or reshape their organization’s onboarding program. Inevitably, the question arises:

I just want our onboarding program to be like yours! Can you just share your materials so I can use them?

(“Yours”  = the day job)

It’s true, our team has implemented an award-winning, internationally-recognized, results-minded onboarding program that has been the cherry on top of our Organizational Development sundae. And, yeah….I suppose I COULD just hand over our agenda, slide decks, templates and resources for you to plug-and-play at your day job.

But you would be lacking something. Something important. Something that your new employees and stakeholders would surely feel.

Your program would lack authenticity. 

Sure – imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, or so the saying goes. And perhaps certain elements of one company’s program could be integrated seamlessly into yours. I don’t claim that any of our organization’s onboarding program is unique by itself, but rather the intention, support and consistent execution coupled with innovative methods and a laser-focus on driving results are what truly determines our program’s long-term sustainability and success.

But as a longtime Talent Development geek professional (maybe I had it right the first time?), I know perfectly well that we all beg-borrow-and yes, steal ideas from each other all. the. time. The concept of idea-sharing is the very backbone of this blog, and so many others! So, how can you leverage some awesome ideas from other programs while ensuring yours is authentic? Here are 4 tips:

>> Don’t force it.

Maybe you learned about a super-cool idea that a colleague has implemented, and want to include it in your own program. Before jumping in immediately based on the cool factor, consider these factors to ensure relevance for your audience:

  • What is your colleague’s industry?
  • What are the employee demographics, schedules, geography, age and skill level?
  • What size is their organization?
  • Is it realistic for your program?

Ensuring that activities, events or other onboarding elements are a good fit are necessary to prevent content from feeling forced or misaligned with the audience.

>> Showcase what’s special.

What is unique about your organization or culture? Help your new employees forge a connection to the company, the team and their new roles. Maybe it’s the end-of-quarter Mimosa Monday celebrations, the annual Habitat for Humanity build or a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Find ways to share what your organization is doing, and how new employees can jump in and get involved.

And while you’re at it….

>> Who are your storytellers?

Whether it is your CEO personally welcoming your new employees on their first day, engaged employees sharing their personal experiences or hearing success stories from loyal customers, identify your raving fans and make their stories come alive during new employees’ crucial first days and weeks on the job. Deepen their attachment to the organization through a balance of relationships and results.


>> Align to your values

Someone once told me, “The only mission statement that matters is, ‘Have fun and make money.'” While a shred of that may hold true for most organizations, there are typically core values that serve as a compass for how organizations do business and make decisions. Aligning the content of your onboarding program with those unique drivers will help new employees embrace those values in their daily performance – both in those early weeks and months on the job, but also throughout their tenure with your organization.


There you have it, friends….beg, borrow and steal all the ideas you want, but make sure they make sense for your organization and people, and then make those ideas your own. Like spotting a bad toupee or a knockoff handbag from a street vendor, new employees can tell when a message isn’t genuine. And if they don’t figure it out in their first days on the job, they’ll discover it soon enough, which could put their long-term engagement and potential success on shaky ground.

Now, it’s your turn:

How do you ensure your new employees receive an authentic experience during their early days, weeks and months on the job? Please add a comment to share your ideas!



Wanna work together in 2018?

Between the launch of my book, Talent GPS: A Manager’s Guide to the Employee Development Journey, speaking engagements and consulting projects, 2017 has certainly whizzed by in a blur….and things are quickly ramping up for 2018. If an onboarding overhaul is on your to-do list for the coming year, let’s talk.

Now booking onsite workshops, retreat facilitation, conference sessions and more – availability is limited, so reserve your spot now!




Onboarding: Some Assembly Required


My 4-year old nephew, Logan, is obsessed with “As Seen on TV” products. Really obsessed. How many 4-year olds do you know cash in their piggy banks to buy a Pocket Hose Ultra? Well, that’s Logan. Love this little guy:


The happiest kid at the mall.


Yep, he cashed in his piggy bank money to buy a Pocket Hose Ultra.

We were shopping for his birthday present recently, and perused the toy and the “As Seen on TV” aisles at the store…because apparently that’s what you do when you’re shopping for an infomercial-aware preschooler. As a parent/aunt who has purchased many toys (not so many infomercial products) over the years, a line prominently displayed on many of the products made me laugh:

Some Assembly Required.

After we bought Logan’s presents (by the way, my son picked out a Slushy Magic kit for him…ironically, no assembly required, and amazingly, it DID actually work), that line played over and over in my head.

Friends, our onboarding programs are kind of like that…some assembly required.

When was the last time you updated your onboarding process? What about your New Employee Orientation materials or agenda? If you’re using the same, tired materials and content from the Clinton administration, it might be time to give your program an update.

As your company’s business objectives, strategies and drivers evolve, so should your onboarding program.

As policies, processes and people change, so should your onboarding program.

As training needs, procedures and systems change, so should your onboarding program.

Your onboarding program –  Orientation and other elements of the new employee experience – should be directly aligned to your company NOW, not your company a few years ago. Sure, it requires upkeep and maintenance to ensure that your content and materials are current, but a new team member needs to have the most up-to-date information, tools and resources available, so s/he can be successful. S/he deserves to have the “assembly” done ahead of time, so s/he doesn’t have to sort the current information from the outdated while trying to navigate a new company, team and role.

Your turn: How often do you take “inventory” of your onboarding program to ensure accuracy and relevance? Is there an element of your program that could use an update? Share your thoughts, tips and challenges in the comments!

Be kind – please share this post with your friends and followers!

Need help with your company’s onboarding program?

phase(two)learning can help with that! Contact us today to learn more about our Onboarding Audit package!


photo credit: Beth Combs

3 Easy Tips for a More Engaging New Employee Orientation Program


Deconstructing and revising an Orientation program is no small undertaking. Trust me, I’ve been there! I’m often asked for quick tips or best practices that can be quickly implemented to an existing New Employee Orientation program. Keeping in mind that every organization and program is different, there are some simple things that can be added to an Orientation program to make it a more engaging, robust part of the onboarding process.

Here are three tips:

1. Involve others in the program.

Maybe you’re the only person facilitating content throughout the Orientation session. If this is the case, the new employees are only meeting YOU. Which means, after the session, when they have questions, who are they calling? That’s right…you.

Even if you are not updating your content, provide opportunities to involve other people and teams in the Orientation process. A few examples might be:

  • Invite someone from your IT help desk provide a brief overview of how to set up computers, report or resolve issues, or connect email to personal devices.
  • Coordinate a panel discussion with key leaders (not necessarily executives) across your organization to share an overview of his/her role, history with the company and advice to new employees
  • Offer a catered breakfast or lunch, and include the employee’s hiring manager on the first day – use the opportunity to facilitate dialogue about how the new employees will be an asset to their respective teams!

2. Leverage templates and checklists.

If there are certain tasks that a new employee should complete during the first few days on the job, document them in the form of a checklist! This makes it easy for a new employee (who is likely overwhelmed by details) to stay on track with forms, tasks and other responsibilities during the transition time. Having clear instructions for during and after the Orientation session will put your attendees at ease, allowing them to focus on the content being delivered in the moment and make the most of the experience!

Additionally, from a facilitator’s point of view, using checklists, templates and other time-saving resources will only make the job easier, particularly when there is a tight agenda to which you must stick!

3. Make Orientation an active experience.

As with most learning sessions, providing an active, collaborative environment will yield better results. Rather than lecture, information-overload sessions, can your content be delivered in an alternative method?

A few lecture alternatives might include:

  • Scavenger hunts
  • Reading and summarizing content
  • Case studies

The good people at Langevin created this helpful (free!) resource with 50 instructional methods. The “lecturette” techniques are particularly good options to try. Enjoy!
Hopefully, these 3 tips will spark some inspiration to energize your existing New Employee Orientation program. It doesn’t take a full program overhaul to add in some engaging elements. Give these ideas a try!

Your turn: How do you provide an engaging experience for your newest employees?  Take a moment to share your thoughts in the comments below!

Looking to establish or energize your onboarding program this year? Contact us to learn more about our Onboarding Audit package!

Improving Training Programs with Feedback


As learning professionals (or whatever hat we might be wearing at any given moment), it is our responsibility to assess a learning need and provide a solution. And, tipping my cap to my passionate learning cohorts around the world, I’d say we do a fine job.

But, you know what? We don’t always have the answers. Or the perspective. Or even the right questions to ask. So we need to engage others.

This might be a pow-wow with a SME or project manager, to learn more about a task, process or system. It might be meeting with a supervisor to better understand a team’s skill or knowledge gaps.

But what about the employees themselves? How often are we asking them what they want out of training? What they need? How we can help them become a stronger employee today…and maybe-just-maybe, help prepare them for future opportunities?

The same goes for orientation and onboarding programs…consider doing a brief survey to poll your workforce, and see what you can learn about your new employee experience. A few questions might include:

  • When you started with (company name), what was the most helpful part of your onboarding experience?
  • What was your biggest challenge when you started in your role?
  • What advice would you give a new employee starting with (company name)?
  • What tools and resources are the biggest help to you?
  • Who was your go-to person when you were getting started in your role?
  • How can we improve the new employee experience at (company name)?

These simple questions can give you perspective that can help you strengthen your process and program. You can use these questions as a foundation, and tweak or expand them based on the program – these examples focus on the new employee experience, but just imagine how a few strategic questions can help you evolve your other training initiatives, leadership development programs, employee transitions and more.

The important thing is to stay curious, friends. We should continuously seek out feedback and suggestions from our various stakeholders, from the executives to the end users, and from all cubicles in between.

Your turn: How do you engage your organization beyond the standard needs analysis or evaluation process? What information have you gained from employees that have impacted your learning programs?

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Ready or Not?


Hey manager!  Ready or not…here comes your new employee!

If a hiring manager doesn’t have a lot of turnover on her team, she may not give a lot of thought to preparing for a new employee’s arrival. On the flip side, a hiring manager who is often bringing on new team members might find herself lacking a consistent preparation process.

If you’ve read previous posts (like this one…or maybe this one) that are directed toward hiring managers, you’re probably already aware of my thoughts on this subject. The hiring manager plays a key role in the successful onboarding of a new employee. I can’t say it enough. In fact, I’m going to say it one. more. time.

The hiring manager (that’s you, maybe?) plays a key (mission-critical, really) role in the successful onboarding of a new employee. Tweet this

Sure, other people play an important role in the process, too. But this is on you. Whether you do it yourself, or you delegate some of the tasks to others on your team, you need to make sure that certain things are ready before your newest team member walks through that front door on his first day.

Now, don’t stress, my friends; I’m going to do some of the legwork for you today. Here is your to-do list, a simple compilation of 10 things that you, dear hiring manager, need to have ready in preparation for Day #1:

1. The employee’s desk/workstation/office – Everyone needs a place to sit. You wouldn’t believe the horror stories I’ve heard about people starting new jobs, only to find their desk had been serving as the office catch-all, or was still full of junk left over from the previous desk tenant. I have personally moved into an office, only to find a stockpile of stale granola bars, likely sitting there since the Reagan administration. Yuck. Give your new employee a clean home, please.

2. The employee’s computer, phone, and other necessary equipment and supplies – You can’t expect an employee to do his job unless he has the tools to do so. Make sure this is taken care of in advance; scrambling around after the employee has started sends the message that disorganization reigns supreme in your office. And nobody wants to work there.

3. A lunch date with you on his first day – Take him out of the building, if possible. Ask him what he thinks so far. See if he has any questions. Learn more about him as a person. Be genuine. Start building the foundation for a solid professional relationship.  Be the manager you’d want to work for.

4. A team lunch or social event during his first week – Help him get acquainted with the folks he will be working with. The sooner he can build these allies, the more it will help him assimilate into the team and company culture, and the more he will be able to learn from them.

5. Plenty of meeting time on your calendar during his first few weeks – Give him feedback. Ask for his feedback. Set expectations early on. Open communication is so important during the onboarding process. What am I saying…it’s important all the time.

6. Tasks or projects where the new employee can contribute during the first weeks – Securing “quick wins” is a major factor in the successful onboarding of leaders at all levels. Look for opportunities for the new employee to be productive, early on. He doesn’t need to be able to solve complex business issues – after all, he doesn’t have the context around the issues yet to fully grasp them. But finding strategic areas to contribute will help him build his credibility with you, with the team, and across the organization.

7. Personally introduce the new employee to key stakeholders across the organization – Take the time to walk him around and make some introductions. Coordinate an email or introductory audio or video conference to introduce him to remote colleagues or partners. Schedule informal meet-and-greet sessions (more info on meet-and-greets can be found here). Make sure your new employee is visible.

8. Coordinate a corporate credit card/expense account, travel guidelines or a company car (if needed) – If your employee will need these items, make sure your employee has them. A new employee will not necessarily understand the process, nor will he know who the go-to people are to arrange for these things. Take a moment. Take care of it.

9. Make arrangements for the new employee to attend any company-wide or department-specific new hire training – Craft short and long-term learning plans for him. Make sure he is fully enabled on systems, processes, products and any compliance-related topics. A knowledgeable, confident employee is often a more productive, loyal employee.

10. Do something nice for your new employee – Even the simplest gesture can tell the new employees that you’re happy they’re on the team. Have the team sign a welcome card. Have fresh flowers waiting on her desk when she arrives on her first day. If your organization is big on branded swag, have a fun coffee mug or t-shirt ready. It really doesn’t matter WHAT you do…just take a moment to show your appreciation. Give the new employee a reason to smile on her drive home that night.

Not so scary, huh? You can definitely do this. Some of these items are very practical and specific. Others will vary, based on the new employee’s role, your personal style and your company’s culture. Regardless, these items should somehow be incorporated into your process. To simplify it even further, I’ve created a handy little Onboarding Checklist for you to download.  Use it, tweak it, make it your own…just DO something! Your new employees deserve to have their onboarding experience be a positive one, don’tcha think?

Your turn: Tell me, hiring managers, what is on your onboarding checklist? How do you welcome someone to your team?

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Pinterest for Onboarding: Part Two


In my last post, I threw out this crazy little notion about incorporating Pinterest into employee onboarding programs.  I promised that there would be a Part 2…and here it is:

I’ve got 3 more board possibilities for you, so between last week’s post and this one, you’ll have 8…count ’em…8 ideas for boards you can easily create and utilize in your onboarding efforts.

Board #6: Leadership Profiles

Does your website have a page dedicated to your leadership team?  Your Board of Directors?  Other strategic leaders?  A board that links to an online bio (or even a video bio!) of these key individuals would be a great tool for educating an incoming employee on their career background and history with the organization.  Linking to videos or written works by these leaders also gives an insightful glimpse into their role and style.  For new employees who will be interacting with leaders at this level (or just working to build influence at this level), this is valuable material!

Board #7: Events & Conferences

Many companies host a user conference, symposium or other events throughout the year.  Posting videos, registration information, recorded webinars, photos, handouts and other resources from these events is a terrific way educate incumbents (not to mention prospects and customers!) on your products, services, and special events.  Additionally, if employees are featured presenters at other conferences throughout your industry, link to those resources as well!  This will both showcase the talent in your organization and provide excellent industry information to a new employee who is looking to educate him/herself.

Board #8: Campus-to-Corporate (Internship Resources)

If your organization has an internship program, having a visual board to link to specific resources that are relevant for these young professionals would be a value-add!  You can incorporate photos from your program, details about applying for an internship, and even link to helpful articles that would benefit young employees – topics like:

  • How to look professional for a job interview
  • Preparing for a job interview
  • Building professional relationships/networking tips
  • Resume building
  • Responsible social media use
  • Adjusting to your first post-college job

As I’ve researched this topic, I have found that Pinterest can be a wonderful playground for just about anything. So, why not learning?  Why not onboarding?  Why not leadership?  If it fits with your overall strategy and objectives….why not?

If you’re doing a little discovery, feel free to follow my own Learning & Development Playground board on Pinterest!

Your turn: Are you going to give Pinterest a try?  I’d love to hear your ideas and plans!

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